In a season that has seen Global Motorsports Group (GMG) take victory at virtually every event of the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge season, the team’s fortunes would continue during this weekend’s visit to Utah Motorsport Campus, with George Kurtz taking a sweep of the GTSA category, and James Sofronas and Matthieu Jaminet winning their category in Sunday’s GTX race. Carter Yeung would also impress in his Pirelli World Challenge debut, while Preston Calvert and Alec Udell would continue to show strong form in both races.
Highlighting the visit would be the No. 04 CrowdStrike McLaren 570S GT4 of George Kurtz, who continues to reign supreme in the series’ GTSA category. Qualifying second-in-class for Saturday’s Race One, Kurtz’ reputation for race-craft and making the most of his car when dueling with competitors once again held true, taking the lead early and never looking back. It was Sunday’s Race Two, however, that George was elevated to a whole other level. Starting from the fifth row, Kurtz and his McLaren took full advantage of the series’ trademark standing start, launching perfectly off the line, advancing three rows by time he got to the first turn, and eventually leading the overall race for several laps. From that point, it simply became a matter of managing his tires and pace, which he did flawlessly en route to yet another GTSA victory and a P4 finish just missing P3 by .09 of a second. It would provide his seventh consecutive victory, and third consecutive weekend sweep.
“It was an unbelievable start we had,” stated Kurtz. “We just got lucky that we timed everything off the line perfectly. It’s been an incredible season so far, but I really have to thank everyone at GMG for such a flawless performance. This was a big weekend for our championship hopes, and it starts with having an excellent car and no mechanical hiccups, which everyone has delivered.”
Also driving in the GTSA category, GMG development driver Carter Yeung would show well in his series debut with the No. 7 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR. While Carter made his professional debut at Daytona in January, over the last year-and-a-half he has competed in a steady stream of regional and grassroots events, amassing enough seat time to be well prepared for the weekend’s rounds.
During Saturday’s Race One, Carter would demonstrate remarkable pace en route to sixth in class, and would have been in the top-10 overall contention were it not for a late-race incident. On Sunday he was in solid podium contention throughout the race, eventually taking fifth once the checkered flag fell.
“Overall I’m happy with our performance and our team. The whole team did an incredible job on Saturday getting me back out after the incident, spending less than a minute in the pits,” stated Yeung. “On Sunday we had a real shot at the podium so of course I would have liked to have had that, but we know our pace was strong and we were able to mix right in with everyone else. Looking toward the future we know we’re in a good place. I really appreciate the effort from everyone on the team, and excited to keep this going.”
In the premier “SprintX” races, Preston Calvert and Alec Udell would also show well in the GTX Pro-Am class, taking their top finish of the season with a pair of top-fives. During Saturday’s Race One, a relatively quiet run in the No. 77 Calvert Dynamics Porsche 911 GT3 R would see Calvert take the green flag and drive a relatively flawless race, with Udell doing his best to make up ground during the final half of the race en route to fifth, earning the race’s “Hard Charger” award in the process. During Sunday’s Race Two, a strong run by both drivers would be slightly compromised when late-race contact would send Preston for a spin, although he was still able to continue and ultimately the team would enjoy their fifth-place classification.
For Alec Udell, there were many positives on the weekend.
“I’m very happy with our performance this weekend,” stated Udell. “Preston drove very well in both races and we came out with two top-five finishes. I was able to dice it with the front-runners in Race Two and show what we’re capable of. Can’t wait for COTA in September!”
For Preston Calvert, an increased pace leaves a lot of encouragement.
“There were definitely some positive aspects to the weekend,” stated Calvert. “I improved my qualifying from last year despite a slower restrictor, and I was able to keep up with the group in front before Alec was able to charge forward. Alec drove a great opening stint on Sunday, we were up to third, but unfortunately I was collected and hit from behind, which left us with costly damage. I still enjoyed it and think the team did a great job.”
Finally, highlighting the team’s SprintX efforts, James Sofronas and Porsche factory driver Matthieu Jaminet would end the weekend on a high with another victory for the No. 14 Mobil 1 / The Thermal Club / 5.11 Tactical Porsche 911 GT3 R. During Saturday’s Race One, the team would continue their season-long battle with the No. 16 Porsche, coming up just short as they settled for second. In Sunday’s Race Two, however, the team would execute perfectly, with their clean pit stop proving to be the decisive maneuver that would elevate them to the top spot in class.
“This was another great weekend in a perfect season,” stated GMG team owner and driver James Sofronas. “We’re at the tail end of the summer, which means we’ve been pushing hard for weeks on end, but you wouldn’t know it with the way these guys continue to deliver. Between our victories, podiums, and mechanical reliability, the depth and strength of everyone here continues to show. Of course I’m happy personally to take another win, and this is really big in our championship hopes. Matthieu was an excellent teammate, and a great testament to the continued commitment that Porsche has shown us.”
GMG and the Pirelli World Challenge will return to racing action in just three weeks’ time, heading to the beautiful Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, the final race of the series “SprintX” championship, and penultimate race of the championship season. Official practice will begin on Friday, September 1, with double-header race action on Saturday, September 2 and Sunday, September 3.